Stuart Broad destroyed Australia in a freakish first session with one of the most remarkable spells in Ashes history as England took a merciless hold on the fourth Investec Test at Trent Bridge.
Australia collapsed to 60 all out, Broad an irresistible force with a career-best eight for 15 – figures previously surpassed in the Ashes for England by only Jim Laker.
Then Joe Root (124no) and Jonny Bairstow (74) confirmed a position of utter dominance in a partnership of 173 which helped England close day one on 274 for four and with one hand on the urn.
Twenty-four hours earlier, captain Alastair Cook had called on his team to “etch themselves into history”, and Broad especially took him at his word.
By the time he had finished – and it took little more than an hour-and-a-half – England’s obvious chances of winning the match and therefore the series were reflected in odds slashed by bookmakers from a start-of-play 2/1 to 1/10.
On his home ground, Broad began the match with 299 wickets, needed just three balls to become only the fifth Englishman to claim 300 and in another nine overs took seven more to move into equal fourth in the national list alongside Fred Trueman.
Australia’s batting was hapless, albeit in cloudy conditions which had persuaded Cook to bowl first on a pitch tinged with green, as a blur of edges were all expertly held in the slip cordon.
Chris Rogers began the tourists’ manic surrender to seam-and-swing when he edged Broad, from round the wicket, to Cook at first slip. It was the opener’s first duck in his 46th innings, and when Steve Smith also departed in the first over, edging extra bounce to Root at third slip, Broad was on his way to figures bettered for England against Australia by only Laker in the famous Old Trafford Test of 1956.
Australia must win here to stop England regaining the Ashes, yet they never hinted at resistance, recording their lowest total against the old enemy since 1936 and shot out in 18.3 overs, Test cricket’s shortest ever completed first innings.
Mark Wood briefly outdid his new-ball partner, striking with only his second delivery when David Warner got an inside-edge behind. Shaun Marsh was the next to edge Broad, to Ian Bell at second slip. Then at the start of Broad’s next over, Ben Stokes pulled off a brilliant catch at gully as Adam Voges went for a single to go with Warner, Rogers and Marsh’s ducks.
Australia captain Michael Clarke managed double-figures, but with ten to his name he faced Broad for the first time and duly edged an attempted drive at a wide one high to Cook.
Broad completed his third successive wicket-maiden and equalled Test cricket’s fastest ever five-wicket haul having, like Australian Ernie Thoshack in 1947, needed only 19 balls. The seventh wicket was not his, Steven Finn replacing Wood at the Radcliffe Road end and bowling Peter Nevill through the gate.
If there was any consolation for Australia, it came when Mitchells Starc and Johnson took them past their worst ever Test total – 36 against England at Edgbaston in 1902. They just kept edging, though, and England kept catching – Root twice collecting again when both Johnson and Starc fell to flat-footed attempts to release the pressure in Broad’s seventh over.
Broad then finished the job when Nathan Lyon speared yet another edge to gully to ensure extras would be Australia’s top scorer with 14.
Starc (three for 73) profited relatively as the ball continued to swing in the afternoon but England eased in front. Adam Lyth edged behind and Bell and Cook were both pinned on the crease lbw. The captain and his deputy Root had nonetheless added between them two runs more than Australia could muster collectively, and after tea an all-Yorkshire alliance ruled.
Under ever sunnier skies, Root was in command on the way to his second century of the series, completed with a cut for his 17th four off his old sparring partner Warner. And Bairstow, back in the big time after his prolific county season, joined in with a heartening 73-ball 50 before eventually chipping Josh Hazlewood to square-leg.